EU calls for resumption of peace talks on Cyprus while its role is questioned
Share article:
Share article:

EU calls for resumption of peace talks on Cyprus while its role is questioned

Map showing the division of Cyprus

Since the interruption of the talks in 2017, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides will resume UN-led talks in April and discuss a solution to one of the world’s longest running international conflicts.

Ahead of the planned talks, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell recently visited Nicosia to meet the leaders of the two sides and offer EU’s support in the peace process.

“I met the two Cypriot leaders and come out of the talks believing that while the road ahead will not be easy, solutions can be found. I encouraged them to seize the opportunity of the 5+1 informal meeting in Geneva next month and come to the talks prepared to compromise,” he said in a statement.

The 5+1 format refers to the two Cypriot sides, the three guarantor powers, the UK, Turkey and Greece, and the UN. Two of the guarantor powers are not EU member states. UK still keeps two military bases in Cyprus and Turkey has not withdrawn its troops from northern Cyprus. EU’s role has been limited to that of an “active observer”.

Borrell recalled that the process was not starting from scratch and referred to the UN Security Council resolutions and the so-called Guterres framework, named after the UN Secretary-General, including six conflict issues related to territory, political equality, property, equivalent treatment, and security and guarantees.

In fact, before the talks collapsed last time, the conflict issues had been narrowed down to only a few percent of previous differences, judging by the negotiators from both sides. Alexander Downer, a former Australian foreign minister and UN envoy confirmed that the differences, after endless hours of negotiations, have been limited to about 5 %, at least as regards property and border issues.

It would be logical to expect that the talks would resume where they ended last time, aiming at bridging the remaining differences between the two sides, but it appears that the position of the Turkish Cypriot side has been sharpened. According to its president Ersin Tatar, “a permanent agreement in Cyprus can only be based on two equal sovereign states”.

He also questioned EU’s role. “It will not be appropriate for the EU to participate in this meeting because as it is known, Greece and South Cyprus are EU members and it is not realistic to expect the EU to be a neutral party in this meeting.”

Borrell, on his part, tried in a blog post after his meeting with Tatar, to highlight the importance of EU’s role and leverage in solving the Cyprus issue. “The EU supports fully the UN line.”

“The Cyprus problem is clearly an EU problem,” he wrote.  “Cyprus is a member state of the Union, now and after reunification; regional stability and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean is closely bound to a solution to the Cyprus problem.” A future settlement needs to comply with the EU acquis and safeguards, the integrity and decision-making responsibilities and processes of the EU.

He added that Turkish Cypriots are EU citizens and the EU has always been clear: the Cyprus’ EU membership is for the benefit of all Cypriots. This has also been reflected in the EU financial assistance to the northern part of Cyprus to prepare it for EU membership.

Asked by The Brussels Times about EU’s position on the forthcoming talks on the Cyprus issue, an EU spokesperson confirmed that it was unchanged and based on the UN parameters but declined to elaborate on EU’s role in the talks.

M. Apelblat
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Belgium in Brief: Getting To The Airport
When I saw the news of plans for a tram line and cycle path to connect Brussels' outskirts to the airport, my first reaction was sheer joy.  Let ...
EU should invest €5 trillion in climate plan, says State Secretary for Economic Recovery
The European Union must invest €5 trillion in its climate plan over the next decade to "retain its credibility as a political project," according ...
Brussels café managers ask for security guards following stabbing over vaccination proof
Managers of cafes in Brussels are asking to be provided with security guards if they’re to continue enforcing rules surrounding proof of vaccination, ...
1.6 tonnes of drugs, 27 suspects: Belgian police bust major gang
The Belgian police and public prosecutor's office arrested 27 suspects and seized 1.6 tonnes of drugs, over €80,000 and a number of weapons in a ...
75% more sexual violence victims seek help in Brussels since summer
There has been a 75% increase in the number of people asking for help from the Brussels Centre for the Treatment of Sexual Violence (CPVS) since the ...
European Commission outlines possible action against the rule of law crisis in Poland
In a speech at the European Parliament plenary on Tuesday morning, Commission president Ursula von der Leyen listed three options for action against ...
PFOS contamination found in air around 3M factory
Months after unsafe levels of the chemical PFOS were discovered in the water and soil in the vicinity of a 3M factory in Antwerp, in addition to in ...
Belgium is global leader in plastic recycling and bioplastic innovations
Belgium is among the best-performing countries when it comes to innovation in plastic recycling and researching alternative plastics technologies, an ...
Lidl reopens all Belgian shops as strike actions end
Lidl has confirmed that all its shops in Belgium will reopen on Tuesday following six days of closure across various branches due to strike actions. ...
Brussels Christmas Market will once again return on 26 November
It may only be October, but the news that Brussels will get back its Christmas market this year means that seasonal celebrations with Glühwein ...
New coronavirus infections above 3,000 for first time since May
The number of people testing positive for coronavirus has skyrocketed to the highest rate since the start of May 2021. Between 9 and 15 October, ...
Brussels Airport adds 10 flight destinations this winter
Some 130 destinations will be served from Brussels Airport this winter, the company announced on Monday, just a few days before the start of the ...